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Technicolor Tuesday

Join me at the Silent Movie Theatre on Tuesday (September 1st) for an entire orgy of 35mm Technicolor cartoons from the 30s, 40s and 50s. We’ve dug up a whole program of diverse classic cartoons with only one thing in common – each is a vintage film print struck in the original three strip Tech process.

Not to go all film geek on you, but this is going to be one helluva show, with Color Rhapsodies, Terrytoons and Noveltoons galore – projected as they were originally intended on the big screen. Forget digital, Technicolor was the cream-of-the-crop chemical film process which required three separate negatives to create its vivid images – and unlike other film stocks, the color never faded. Sadly, Technicolor’s dye-transfer process, used during the golden age of Hollywood, stopped due to costs in 1974.

Luckily, prints still exist – but they are getting scarce. Our big show starts at 8pm and advance tickets are on sale now. Check the CineFamily website for more information. Click the thumbnails below to see frame enlargements from a few of the actual prints we will be showing.

  • I can name two cartoons shown there:

    “The Enchanted Square” (1947/Famous)
    “Droopy’s Double Trouble” (1951/MGM)

    What else are there?

  • Sounds like it’ll be a great evening. I think I’ll have to go!

  • captainmurphy

    I’m curious as to how many 3 strip masters still exist, and how often they are still used in restoration and digital mastering process.

    The more famous examples that may abound are Gone With The Wind, And Vertigo (and probably Wizard of Oz and others) where there is usually documentary of the mastering process and discussion of how the more permament black and white 3 strips is less permanent as an archive, if the three separate strips do not age evenly and one or more shrinks. A lot of work, and better results might be achieved simply by finding a very good print.

  • Thad

    YUMMY! Classic color film should be illegal to see in anything but IB Technicolor.

  • Robert Barker

    Can’t wait. Save me a couch seat up front.

  • David Breneman

    Of course, with a cartoon you also have the option of restoring from the camera negative, which has all three colors exposed in succession on the same strip of film. I’d assume that restorers would prefer working with that source if it’s available, for the reason that “captainmurphy” mentions.

  • christian

    OH PLEASE JERRY!!! Please post some more of those little samples of film, they look amazing, or if you know of a similar site???? that would be awesome.

    Thanks for posting these ones.

  • Ed Thompson

    Seeing the festivals and events both you and Amid post, it really stinks living in flyover country.

  • Eric Gurwitz

    Oh, man! I was hoping to see a pristine ORIGINAL Technicolor print of “The Enchanted Square.” Problem is, I LIVE IN NEW JERSEY!!!!

  • Erin Siegel

    Ooh, I’ve never seen cartoons in their original color print outside of Animation History class. That looks pretty entertaining. I’ll head out there if I get the chance.

  • Brian Kidd

    Please forgive me if I’m wrong. I’m not an expert, just an enthusiast. Wasn’t the process that was used on SINGING IN THE RAIN, THE WIZARD OF OZ, and GWTW designed primarily in order to solve problems with uneven shrinkage? It uses software in order to perfectly align the three images, resulting in a final image that is arguably better than the original Technicolor prints. I think the big problem with films made before the 1950s is that they’re on nitrate film and eventually decompose, even when properly stored. Some studios were better than others at taking care of their negatives. That’s why most of the Disney shorts look great. Columbia, however, was known to use their O-Negs until they were in pieces. Since these animated shorts aren’t on the top of the list of important films at most studios, I’d imagine that many of the negatives are either gone forever or in bad shape. These prints may be the best you’ll ever see these toons look.

  • Wow! The Droopy’s Double Trouble 35mm prints came excellent and gorgeous. No saturation of the technicolor like used in today’s prints.

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    Ever since I saw a 40s Tex Avery toon which used the gag “Technicolor red has gone to war” [a goof on a Lucky Strike slogan], I’ve had to wonder just what was IN Technicolor film that affected its appearance during wartime. I also remember seeing some toons where in the opening credits the Technicolor logo was crudely scratched out. I suppose it may have had something to do with how flammable nitrate prints are, a plot point from Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” [sic]. Honestly, I don’t know.

  • David

    That “Enchanted Square” grab has got my mouth watering. Mr. Beck, I beg of you, take this show on the road. May I suggest Satellite Beach, Florida, around say late January (after I return from overseas).

    I’d gladly pay!

  • Vegaswolfie

    I have notice that anytime I watch anything in Technicolor, I see the name Natalie Kalmus.


    Please post more of these here or on a seperate site! It would make me and other film buffs happy!

  • PEZ

    Finally a reason to live in LA

  • David Breneman

    “Vegaswolfie”, Natalie Kalmus was the ex-wife of the head of Technicolor, Herbert Kalmus. Part of the divorce decree was that she recieve a percentage of the royalties of all Technicolor films. The easiest was to accomplish that was to make her a “consultant” whose “input” was required on Technicolor productions. Gotta love them Hollywood divorces.

  • Just got home from this program; thanks so much for putting it on! I’ve tried to get to other special events you’ve done with the Cinefamily, but this is the first one I’ve actually made it to (I was really sad to have missed the pre-code one). The whole thing was enchanting, and I think the rest of the audience agreed with me. I’m ashamed to admit I tend to concentrate only on the Warner Bros. cartoons and tend to forget about all the other studios, so it was great to see such a great variety in the program.